July 20, 2013
Toughies: CrossFit Kilo
By Abi Fangman

“All it takes is one mistake. Consistency will win it. A team has gotta be tough. You can’t fuck up even once.”

Armand McCormick’s strategy is the same in war and competition: Don’t fear. Just go.

In 2003, McCormick was awarded the Silver Star for bold leadership, wise judgment and complete dedication to duty. As the Military Times reported at the announcement of the award,

“Lance Corporal McCormick exhibited exceptional bravery when the lead elements of his battalion were ambushed with mortars, rocket propelled grenades, and automatic weapons fire. Under heavy fire, he fearlessly drove his lightly armored vehicle directly at an enemy machine gun position and purposely crashed it into an occupied trench line. With the initial breach of the enemy defense now gained for his unit, he sprang from the vehicle and began assaulting down the berm and ambush line with two Marines. Taking direct fire, and outnumbered, he pressed forward firing his M-9 pistol at enemy forces. Moving through the trench he repeatedly came under enemy fire, each time calmly taking well-aimed shots. As the group ran low on ammunition, he collected enemy rifles and a rocket propelled grenade and continued to press the attack forward several hundred meters. As a follow on company began to make their entrance into the berm, he returned to his vehicle and backed it out of the trench. Lance Corporal McCormick's courageous and boldly aggressive actions greatly reduced the enemy's ability to inflict casualties on the rest of his battalion.”

Next week, he intends to lead his team, CrossFit Kilo, to the win.

As the team captain, McCormick brings Marine traditions to CrossFit.

“Our team is not a democracy. Too many decision makers can make things difficult,” McCormick says. “It’s all about trust. My team trusts me to make the right decisions. No whining. No crying. Just do what I say. That’s our system, and it fucking works.”

It led his team to a first-place finish at the 2013 North Central Regional, up from a second-place finish in 2012.

He wants to continue this trend and better the team’s 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games finish. Last year, CrossFit Kilo finished in eighth, and was cut before the last event.

McCormick selected a team of veterans and rookies who all have what he deems the right mentality.

“CrossFit won’t develop a particular mentality. You have it or you don’t. We may not be a group of super athletes, but I believe my team can do more than anybody out there because they already have a tough mentality,” McCormick says.

And that tough mentality has earned them a reputation for being an intense and solemn team.

“We’re not in this to make friends. We have our community at Kilo and each other as support,” McCormick says. “We’re there to compete against everybody else. And to win.”  

“We don’t put on a show. We don’t fake anything. We go out and get it done. It’s no disrespect, but we want to win so the focus is on our own performance,” teammate Charlie Donohue explains.

Sarah McCormick, Armand’s wife, is also on the team. Although some might give preferential treatment to their spouse, Sarah says at the gym, Armand is all business.  

“It can be a challenge, but we have a strong relationship,” she says. “I can let him down just like anybody else. If I disappoint him, it follows us home, so we have to learn to separate training and our home life. But he has no problem being as tough on me at the gym as any other athlete.”

“I have no time for bad attitudes. Good friends or not, I’d kick any athlete out of the gym if they’re not listening or refuse during training. I don’t have time for that. Our team does not CrossFit recreationally so the standards are different,” McCormick says.  

Although the team may sound like something out of Full Metal Jacket, Sarah assures us that it’s more like Stripes — at least when they’re off the competition floor.

“We might come off really serious, but we have fun,” Sarah says. “We’re always joking around during warm-ups but we’re focused when it’s time to compete.”    

Next week, CrossFit Kilo will take McCormick’s battle-tested approach to the CrossFit Games. Like in war, they know they can’t make a single mistake.

“All it takes is one mistake. Consistency will win it. A team has gotta be tough. You can’t fuck up even once.”